8 simple ways Gloucestershire businesses can protect themselves against spam emails

With nearly half of all businesses suffering a cyber attack in 2020, and criminals finding a route in through spam emails, IT specialist ReformIT offers some simple ways to help stop Gloucestershire companies becoming cyber crime victims.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
It's one of the main doors into a business for cyber criminals, but with a little but of effort you can help significantly cut the risk.
It's one of the main doors into a business for cyber criminals, but with a little but of effort you can help significantly cut the risk.

According to the UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 survey, 46 per cent of businesses were the victim of a cyber attack in 2020, with the figure even higher for bigger firms – with huge potential financial and reputational damage for Gloucestershire businesses.

Spam emails are the most popular route in for cyber criminals, but according to Cheltenham-based IT specialists ReformIT there are steps business owners can take – from the sophisticated to the simple – which together add up to an effective deterrent.

Don’t underestimate your staff

Human beings might be the weak link, but they are also an asset. Talk to your IT provider about how best to train your staff. It may even be able to do it for you. Get that right and what might have been a weakness becomes a valuable layer of security to protect your business.

Utilise multi-factor authentication

If you and your staff sign in with a single password to access you emails you may want to think again. That’s like having one lock on your front door – and not a very good one at that. Which brings us to our advice, to ‘utilise multi-factor authentication’. Make it so you need two or more pieces of evidence to access your account: password/pin and fingerprint, for example. Or, in other words, ‘put more than one lock on that door’.

Know your spam filter is not 100 per cent effective

What we mean is, ‘yes, get a spam filter. It is a must’. They are built to help detect unsolicited, unwanted, and virus-infested emails and stop them getting into your inbox. But remember, a spam filter cannot do the job of keeping your company safe on its own. Your digital security is the sum of its parts.

Don’t assume your spam filter is fit for purpose because of the brand

In an effort not to stifle a dynamic market led by innovation, many of the big names, including Microsoft, do not seek to lead the spam filter market. In short, get advice on your specific needs. You may not have heard of the other names of the other brands, but your IT support should be able to explain it all.

Train your spam filter

If you want something positive and simple you can do right now while you search for a firm suited to managing your company’s IT, and possibly to keep that blood pressure under control, train your spam filter.

When you receive a spam email from an unknown sender, don’t just delete it – mark it as spam. Your machine will block any further emails from that address.

Never respond to spam

Check out all emails in your reading pane first, and DO NOT open any suspicious emails. Easier said than done, so if you click and then realise your mistake, DO NOT reply and DO NOT click any links. Close the email and mark it as spam.

Get yourself a sandbox

No, it’s not a box of sand. Think of it as a safe place suspicious files or applications can be run and examined before they are passed through a firewall and into your network. Again, speak to your IT provider. It may not be as costly as you might think. It may be you already have the feature in your email system and simply don’t have it turned on!

Speak up and limit damage

This bit is particularly important – as awkward as it might sound. If you have opened an email in haste, clicked a link, or worst still – think ‘I’ve been the victim of a phishing attack’ – speak up immediately. If it is your business, encourage staff to also do so. The faster you act, the less damage your business will face.

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